Country report for Kosovo- Mobility of healthcare workers from Western Balkans

October 1, 2015 Healthgrouper (Pristina, Skopje)

Executive summary

This country report, present the findings for Kosovo during the one year research. We give an overview of the health system in Kosovo, the challenges that the system is facing, the results from the interviews and from the conducted Survey. In this country report, we also present the policies and regulations behind the process of migration.

Kosovo is still the poorest country in Europe, while systemic corruption, high unemployment, nepotism in employment, politicization of the public sector, dire economic situation and potential of social unrest are among main push factors that contribute to general migration from the country. On the other hand, general pull factors such higher wages and higher standards of living, welfare benefits, political stability, safety, political and religious freedom have additionally contributed to to latest massive migration from Kosovo. The decisions of Germany, France and some other European states to not consider Kosovo as a safe country, have served as an additional specific pull factor that triggered such a massive exodus.

Similarly to other countries in the region involved in this research project, the migration of the health workers in Kosovo is becoming a problem that can seriously affect the stability of country’s health system in the near future. The migration of the health workforce from Kosovo follows similar patterns of general migration from the country. However, the reasons behind their migration are deep and complex. Interviewed policymakers and focus group discussions clearly indicate that reasons behind migration of health workforce from Kosovo are multifold. Economic, professional, political and personal factors included in the survey were all shown to have considerable influence on those who consider migrating as well as on those who have already left the country. Doctors strive not only for higher wages, but also for better working conditions, for more career development opportunities, for safe and prosperous environments for their families. Perhaps even more, they want they status to be respected and recognized in the society they live in. Encouragingly enough, doctors working abroad have shown their readiness to return if they could contribute in improving the status of the health sector back home with ability to use additional skills gained abroad. This is an excellent opportunity for Kosovo institutions to turn the obvious “brain drain” that Kosovo is facing into a “brain gain” by institutionalizing cooperation with these individuals and their institutions abroad.

Though there is a wide consensus in the country about the need for a holistic and through strategy that would mitigate further losses of the health workforce, steps undertaken so far are far from sufficient. To begin with, the available data regarding migration of health workers are inadequate or missing, while the interests and the needs of the education system and the healthcare system are totally miss-matched. The communication and coordination between decision-makers and policymakers, on the one hand, and health professionals in the field, on the other, is almost non-existing. If urgent measures are not initiated in a foreseeable future, evident migration of health workforce could threaten not only the functioning of the health sector in Kosovo, but also of the society as a whole. We sincerely hope that research results presented in this project would have at least a modest contribution in that direction.

Project coordinator and main researcher: Vladimir Lazarevik

Researchers for Macedonia: Neda Popovska Kamnar, Blashko Kasapinov, Sanja Spasova
Researchers for Serbia: Maja Krstic, Miljan Lubichic
Researchers for Albania: Ardita Kongjonaj, Gazment Koduzi
Researchers for Kosovo: Teuta Demjaha Agai, Vlera Shpatia


This country report has been prepared in the framework of the Regional Research Promotion Programme in the Western Balkans implemented by University of Fribourg upon a mandate of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

The views expressed in this press release are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent opinions of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the University of Fribourg.